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Positive Sci-fi Game


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#1 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2242

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:12 AM

There has been some focus lately on dystopian sci-fi books/movies/games casting a poor light on the scientific profession. Many games involve an apocalypse released by a hapless scientist, fighting an evil genius, or an evil corporation bending weak-willed scientists to their evil ends. In light of this I'd like to work on a sci-fi game which is positive or at least neutral towards science and/or scientists. The problem is that I've all but grown up on dystopian sci-fi, so my source of inspiration tends to be pretty dark. I have total writers block in this area.

The technical limitations I'm working within are:
- Limit number of NPCs with decent AI, e.g. plenty of robots or zombies fine, but proper reactive characters limited.
- Limit visible distance, e.g. indoors or in a city with obscuring buildings.
- Multiple outcomes preferred without a clear succeed/fail.

I know I'm unashamedly asking for ideas or at least a strategy for coming up with ideas, but vague ideas are fine. I'm happy to put in the grunt work.

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#2 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 04:34 PM

Trying to portray Sci-Fi in a positive light would probably be easiest if science overcame some other problem. The ones that immediately jump to light is if there was some natural disaster that was solved.

Some ideas would be
- Preventing a world-ending event (meteor strike, ice age)
- Solving world hunger / Uniting the world

If you have some more details on the game that would be useful for brainstorming.

#3 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2242

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:05 PM

Cool, good starting point! I think the world-ending event is easier/more dramatic. It would give easy reasons for low population density in city-type environments, e.g. most wiped out or evacuated, and outdoor environments with low visibility due to pollution or snow could be used. Something like a meteor strike could be used to enforce a timer, and something like ice age could be used to get a slowly getting worse feeling.

As a bonus, there are many approaches to such an endeavour, most relying upon science. For example, divert/destroy asteroid, evacuate earth, build bunkers. In addition there are the moral sides of these decisions, breakdown of law and order, population displacement, etc.

I should have mentioned that I was thinking kind of along Fallout 3 lines, but a little less sandboxy, a lot smaller, and with less reliance on stats.

#4 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5055

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:45 PM

There's quite a lot of examples of positive science fiction available if you want to go look up things written in the 80s. Science fiction settings are great for comedy and adventure, and not bad for romance either.

The idea of multiple outcomes with no clear success/fail isn't extremely compatible with a story with a happy ending though. Unless it's the kind of game where the player pretty much always wins or makes progress, and the outcome is just whether they make $10 or $12, that's works as positive but not obvious.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#5 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2242

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 05:59 AM

To clarify, I don't necessarily mean an "everybody lived happily ever after" ending, just that science made the situation significantly better than if there were no science. So for me, science saving SOME of Earth from complete destruction by a natural disaster counts as positive sci-fi, but science saving some people from a plague CREATED BY SCIENTISTS would not.

I'll check out some of my older sci-fi books, but one thing that I want to avoid is exploring space, a very common theme from back then and earlier which I feel no need to cover myself.

#6 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 10360

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:55 AM

To clarify, I don't necessarily mean an "everybody lived happily ever after" ending, just that science made the situation significantly better than if there were no science.

The simplest approach is just not to make technology the primary focus of the story. Have a couple of examples from popular fiction that do so very well:

Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game: the story is more about sociology and child-abuse, but technology is a constant backdrop, and the differentiator between man and insect.
Ursula K. Le Guin - The Dispossessed: it's about politics/language/culture, and the difference in technology level is used to drive the tension between two cultures.

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#7 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2242

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 02:51 PM

Good point, subtelty is an alternative to putting science centre stage. ;) I enjoyed Ender's Game a lot, so I get you there. I don't recall The Dispossessed, although I have read some Le Guin.

#8 sciencewarrior   Members   -  Reputation: 110

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 09:50 AM

How about, science gives access to some place that was previously inaccessible. It can be the heart of a volcano, an asteroid, a sunk ship. You can let intrepid scientist-explorers solve puzzles with gadgets or their knowledge of biology/geology/physics/chemistry.




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